Famous fiddler gears up for NASCAR show

Published 10:30 am Saturday, April 25, 2009

Charlie Daniels knows a good thing when he plays it.

That’s why, even after 30 years, the legendary fiddler will never tire of performing his No. 1 country hit “Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

“It’s been a very resilient song for us,” Daniels said during a phone interview Friday afternoon. “If we did a concert and didn’t (play) it, people would be disappointed.”

Being a true Southern gentleman, the North Carolina native promises that fans who come to see him perform at the Lipton 250 won’t be left disappointed, although he may put a new spin on the old tune.

“I get a chance to play it different every night,” Daniels, 72, said with a laugh.

The Charlie Daniels Band will take center stage Friday, May 2, at the Lipton 250, a NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Richmond International Raceway.

Daniels, long known for his patriotism, will sing the national anthem before the start of the race, too.

Local fans will have a chance to see Daniels and the race. A drawing sponsored by The Tidewater News will take place Monday. Fans can enter to win two tickets to the race at local businesses. Look on Page A7 for places to enter. The winners will be announced in the Wednesday edition of the TN.

For his part of the show, Daniels and his band will perform much more than one hit. The 50-year music veteran recently was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry and has plenty of songs under his belt.

“It took a long time, but it finally happened,” Daniels said about the Opry induction. “I’m a lifelong fan of the Grand Ole Opry. It’s a great honor.”

Daniels has kept busy on the road and continues to play 90-100 shows per year with his band, which just returned this week from a third trip to perform for troops in Iraq.

“It was wonderful; they are the best we’ve got,” he said about the troops. “They’re disciplined. They have themselves under authority. They’re intelligent. They’re healthy and they’re bright-eyed. They’re just a great bunch.”

Daniels also continues to stay busy in the studio. He has been recording part of a bluegrass Christmas album with other artists such as Jewel, Aaron Tippen and Kathy Mattea.

Daniels, who is a NASCAR fan, said he is looking forward to playing the Richmond show with bandmates Taz DiGreggorio, Charlie Hayward, Pat McDonald, Bruce Brown and Chris Wormer.

“We run into a lot of our fans at NASCAR,” he said. “We’re going to get into it and have a good time.”

Daniels said he doesn’t have plans to retire anytime soon.

“As long as it’s God’s will for me to do it, and I’m in health to do it and people want to do it, I’m going to do it,” he said. “I can’t think of a better way to spend my life.”